Britain protested to the Spanish government regarding a new incident in the waters off Gibraltar, London's minister for Europe said Monday.
David Lidington presented before Parliament a written statement concerning the Oct. 30 episode, which occurred during a routine transfer of personnel between Royal Navy vessels in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters.
Upon observing a Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) vessel approaching at high speed, the vessels of the Royal Navy and the Gibraltar Defense Police complied with the procedures for incidents of this type and formed a protective barrier, the minister said.
The Spanish vessel "conducted several dangerous manoeuvers near to the British vessels" and a minor collision took place, he said.
"There was no damage to either vessel, no shots were fired and there were no injuries," Lidington told the British Parliament.
The British government "raised this at a high level with the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, making clear that the actions of the Guardia Civil were unacceptable and dangerous, with the potential to cause serious injury or damage," he said.
"Once the full facts of the incident had been established, a formal written protest was also issued to the Spanish Government in Madrid," Lidington said.
Tensions between Madrid and London over Gibraltar, a British Overseas Possession at the southern tip of the Iberian peninsula, flared in July when the local administration on the Rock dropped 70 concrete blocks into the Mediterranean with the aim of forming an artificial reef.
The reef project violates the European Union's environmental regulations and threatens the livelihoods of Spanish fishermen, according to Madrid, which imposed new border checks that have led to hours-long waits for people entering and leaving Gibraltar.
A territory of 5.5 sq. kilometers (2.1 sq. miles) at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, Gibraltar has been held by Britain since 1704 and became a British Crown Colony in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht.
Gibraltar claims jurisdiction over the waters out to three nautical miles from the Rock's shoreline, but that claim is not recognized by Spain. EFE